NEW RULES 1/1/2008: Don’t lose your lithium batteries to airport security!

by 1389 on December 30, 2007

in 1389 (blog admin), airlines and aviation, PSA, tech industry, tech tips, travel, U.S. law, video and film

New U.S. TSA rules take effect New Year’s Day 2008

In a nutshell: You will no longer be able to pack spare batteries in checked baggage, but, within limits, you will be allowed to pack spare batteries in carry-on baggage. Most lithium batteries for consumer electronic devices such as laptops and video cameras will meet the restrictions. But large, professional-grade batteries may exceed the limits; if you have any doubts, call the manufacturer before you pack your devices for travel.

Don’t Lose Your Batteries to Airport Security!

By Gary Krakow, – 12/29/2007 10:34 AM EST

If you’re one of the millions of airline travelers who carry spare lithium laptop, cell phone and camera batteries with you, listen up: The government has some new rules which go into effect on New Year’s Day.

Fortunately, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not worried about the batteries installed in your devices, be it an iPhone or laptop. Those are safe to bring along with you on the plane in your carry-on bag.

But the TSA is worried about loose, spare batteries. These are batteries with uncovered electrical contacts, which, if touched by other metal objects could cause an explosion and fire during a flight. So, the agency wants to make sure that any spare lithium batteries you take with you on your flight meet its new standards.

From the DOT Safe Travel site:

Effective January 1, 2008, the following rules apply to the spare lithium batteries you carry with you in case the battery in a device runs low:

  • Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
  • You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage
  • You may bring spare lithium batteries with you in carry-on baggage – see our spare battery tips and how-to sections to find out how to pack spare batteries safely!
  • Even though we recommend carrying your devices with you in carry-on baggage as well, if you must bring one in checked baggage, you may check it with the batteries installed.

The following quantity limits apply to both your spare and installed batteries. The limits are expressed in grams of “equivalent lithium content.” 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours:

  • Under the new rules, you can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All lithium ion batteries in cell phones are below 8 gram equivalent lithium content. Nearly all laptop computers also are below this quantity threshold.
  • You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold. Examples of two types of lithium ion batteries with equivalent lithium content over 8 grams but below 25 are shown below.
  • For a lithium metal battery, whether installed in a device or carried as a spare, the limit on lithium content is 2 grams of lithium metal per battery.
  • Almost all consumer-type lithium metal batteries are below 2 grams of lithium metal. But if you are unsure, contact the manufacturer!

Click here for more information and useful photos.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Norski December 30, 2007 at 11:07 pm

Thanks for the heads-up. This TSA rule seems reasonable: To my knowledge, there’s not that much difference between a big battery and a shielded explosive device, as far as our security tech is concerned.

And, it wouldn’t be that hard to make a bomb that fits inside a battery casing.

It’s a nuisance, but we’re living in interesting times, and I’d rather have security attended to, than not.

2 1389 December 31, 2007 at 12:02 am


My issue with it is this: What if you are a video blogger or new-media journalist who uses high-end equipment that takes professional-grade batteries? How will you get there with adequate batteries to get the job done? Will you have to buy or rent expensive rechargeable batteries when you get to your destination – assuming that exactly the right type is available at that time? Or will you have to buy extra batteries in advance and find a way to ship them ahead by some other carrier?

I can see that the mainstream media won’t be affected too much. They have people and facilities and trucks stationed wherever they need them, and they charter planes if they need to.

But this will inconvenience the little guys and gals – citizen journalists, activist bloggers, and so forth. It might not be an intentional infringement on freedom of speech and the press, but it certainly could cause some extra cost and inconvenience. It’s certainly something that we will all have to think about.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: